Attic to Archive

On the Provenance of the Charlotte Cushman Papers at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC.

Loose Letters from Charlotte Cushman Papers

Much of the material I read for our research project (letters, diary entries) is of a very private nature. This raises ethical concerns as well as methodological issues:

But what does it mean to begin to sift the available traces of someone’s life? Where do the boundaries lie between private lives and public scrutiny? […] How do we make sense of surviving traces of their private lives that have found their way into public archives? What protocols govern scholarly attention to these particular aspects of the archival record?

Dever, Maryanne, et al. “The Intimate Archive.” Archives and Manuscripts, vol. 38, no. 1, May 2010, pp. 94–137.

It also raises very practical questions – some of which struck me immediately upon sitting down in front of one bound book of Charlotte Cushman’s personal correspondence (decyphering the handwriting, storage of data), some of which took a while to dawn on me. Most importantly:

How did these letters get here???

Box 1, Charlotte Cushman Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, DC
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History Of Knowledge

Blog Post on Gossip

After my research stay at the German Historical Institute in Washington, DC, last spring, the editors of their History of Knowledge-Blog kindly invited me to contribute a blog post on gossip’s relevance to studying the history of knowledge.

My thoughts on gossip, queer history, and archives entitled “An Intimate Knowledge of the Past? Gossip in the Archives” can be found here.

Besides some theoretical observations about what defines gossip and how we know history, the post also has ALL the drama of Charlotte Cushman’s most notorious break-up.